MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Hall of Fame inducted its first MTHS graduate to attend West Point Military Academy, Army First Lieutenant Lindsey Danilack. Her father, Mark, introduced her, and his pride was obvious for Lindsey, who is an Apache helicopter pilot.
Mark talked about how Lindsey was first captain at West Point when she was a senior, and only the fourth woman to hold this post. The first captain, also called the brigade commander, is named by the commandant of West Point, Mark said.
“She was the 143rd name on the plaque, and her name is there with [Generals] Pershing, MacArthur and Westmoreland,” he said. “The first captain is at the top of the cadet chain of command, and she commanded the entire corps of cadets, a corps that is composed of the best of the best this nation has to offer.”
In her acceptance speech, Lindsey said she first visited West Point at age 11 and she saw cadets doing combatives on one of the fields.
“I knew from that young age, West Point was where I wanted to go to college, and the tenacious drive and competitive nature that I derived from my years at MTHS definitely kept me motivated every day to fulfill that dream,” she told the audience at the Hall of Fame induction dinner on Nov. 17. She is a graduate of the class of 2010.
As first captain, Lindsey was able to ring the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange with the CEOs of Johnson and Johnson, New Balance, and the Koch Brothers on Veterans Day in 2013, she said. She worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, received a top secret security clearance, gave Madeleine Albright a tour of West Point, met Chelsea Clinton for lunch, developed a close working relationship with the country’s senior generals, Odierno and Dempsey, met foreign presidents, jumped out of airplanes, repelled out of helicopters, and met President Obama, she said.
On top of all these opportunities, Lindsey was captain of the women’s track team while at West Point, and the team beat Navy for the first time in eight years, she said.
“Those opportunities would not have existed if it had not been for my upbringing in Montville, surrounded by the world’s greatest friends, the people of Montville, and of course, my family,” she said.
After graduation from West Point, Lindsey went into the Aviation branch of the Army.
“I spend my days and nights flying the world’s most lethal helicopter, the longbow Apache,” she said. “Currently I serve as a platoon leader, where I am in charge of eight Apache helicopters, 40 personnel, and more than $200 million dollars of equipment.”
Lindsey has led her platoon in the use of multiple types of munitions – machine guns, rockets and missiles – combined missions with armored units and infantry, and joint-force missions with the Air Force, flying with F16s and A10s, she said, and has led her unit on rotations at the National Training Center in California.
“She was recently there with her unit,” Mark said. “About 4,000 aviators and support crew work for five weeks of pre-deployment qualification. The Apache that Lindsey flies is a bad-ass gunship full of weapons, and the enemy is terrified of it. Lindsey was at the center with the 3rd Cavalry 6th Regiment Combat Aviation Brigade, and at the conclusion of the training, they give out one award, ‘The Hero of the Battle.’ Among all the majors and captains, that award was presented to a little platoon leader.”
Mark read from the award, “because it really encompasses what kind of a soldier she has become,” he said.
He read, “First Lieutenant Danilack is the epitome of the warrior leader. Her commitment to mission accomplishment and the welfare of her soldiers inspired the highest degree of loyalty from her troop. Serving as the primary planner and air mission commander for the 3-6 Cav, 1st Lt. Danilack led two missions into direct enemy contact [at the training center], resulting in the destruction of an entire battalion of enemy 2S19 artillery while sustaining no casualties.”
Lindsey is stationed at Ft. Bliss in Texas, and says she is currently training to deploy to Afghanistan in the near future. She said that her Montville roots keep her “grounded, driven and dedicated.”
Her favorite memory from MTHS was the relay team of her, Whitney Zammit, Amanda Tadeshi and Sara Novak, when they won Penn relays together, she recalled.
“Montville is an amazing town to grow up in and a great place to be from. It is truly and will always be my home,” she said.